Ohio State improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 69-58 win over Rhode Island in the College Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off event Saturday afternoon at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.
The Buckeyes, ranked fourth nationally, advance to Sunday’s championship game against Seton Hall or Washington at 4:30 p.m. (ESPN2).
It was a big day for preseason All-American Deshaun Thomas, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds. Thomas was 9 of 20 from the floor, 3 of 6 on threes and 4 of 4 at the foul line.
"We're just going to mark it down as a win," Thomas said afterwards. "We know we're a team that's can get better each and every day."
URI (0-3) jumped out to a 22-15 lead midway through the first half. But OSU responded with a late rally, keyed by a three-pointer from Smith and a layup from Craft, to go up 30-26 at the half.
The lead went to six at 34-28 after Thomas hit a three off a pass from Smith after an offensive rebound. Smith canned another three for a 41-36 lead with 13:20 left. Thomas canned a three for a 44-38 lead with 11:18 left.
The Buckeyes got the lead to eight at 48-40 after a Craft steal led to a Shannon Scott layup with 9:09 left. Craft hit a three to make it 53-44 with 6:45 left. Moments later, URI coach Dan Hurley was assessed a technical foul. Thomas made those two free throws for a 55-44 lead with 6:26 left.
Thomas canned a three and had another jumper for OSU’s biggest lead at 62-48 with 4:05 left.
Scott added six points and Sam Thompson had five points and six rebounds.
Xavier Mumford led URI with 16 points.
"We're going to know a lot more about our basketball team at 6:30 then we did coming into this tournament,” Ohio State coach Thad Matta told reporters afterwards. "I think this will be good for our team in terms of growth."
After Sunday, OSU returns home to host Missouri-Kansas City on Friday (6 p.m.). That will be OSU’s last tune-up before its showdown at No. 9 Duke on Nov. 28.
Click here for the box score from OSU-URI.